IN THE KIRKEGAARD, DECEMBER
The graves here are swaddled with pine boughs
and across the street a woman lights tall candles.
In her window a white orchid blooms.
Men working on a steep roof
came down some time ago—I saw them
at noon, when the sun crested the chimney
—they left the ladders for tomorrow. How easy
it seems—now when daylight is lean
and weather tears at the sky—to stand
balanced before death, to warm a room
with only three flames and a flower.
Someone has been paid to lay the boughs
in quilted patterns around the stones
—the sticky resin and sharp smell of Yule—
to tuck in the dead, the beloved strangers, for winter.
Athena Kildegaard has had work appear in Faultline, Drunken Boat, Poetry East, Puerto del Sol, Cream City Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. Her first book, Rare Momentum, was published by Red Dragonfly Press, as will the forthcoming collection, Bodies of Light.